|The Esperanto Center in Herzberg has a full set of flags to greet visitors, and they flew the US flag in our honor.|
Next we went to Berlin, where we stayed with Dennis and his wife and two young children. They live in a 6th floor penthouse with a nice view over the city. We spent an entire day seeing various parts of Berlin by foot and—using an all-day transit pass—by bus, tram, U-bahn, and S-bahn (always SRO on the last two). We saw the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten Park, Kurfürstendamm, the Holocaust memorial, a comprehensive exhibit about the Berlin Wall, and several less touristy parts of the city. Berlin didn't actually appeal to us very much—too gritty, too much graffiti, and definitely too much smoking. We decided that what we like in a city is: clean, no graffiti, no smoking, calm traffic, no honking, public transportation, locals seem happy, no tourists, vegan pubs, buskers, a lot of flowers or other color. One thing I did like in Berlin was all the families on bikes; even 3-year-olds confidently ride their bikes across busy intersections on the green light.
|The Meine-Deine game|
We next headed to Leipzig for five days, which we'd been looking forward to for many months, because our dear friends live there. The original contact was Annelore, Les' first Esperanto penpal, and he visited them in 1988, 1989 (with Julie), and 1990. Annelore and her son visited us in Seattle soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall (a dream none of us had believed possible), and her daughter Anita lived with us for a few months while doing an internship at Fred Hutch, and has since visited with her two children. I finally got to Leipzig for the first time two years ago, so I already knew that our stay there would be like being at home in the midst of our long trip (we're almost at the halfway point).
|Anita keeps track of the time in Leipzig, Seattle, and the town where her brother lives in Australia.|
One evening we were concerned about a planned anti-Islam demonstration, which is apparently a regular occurrence that also brings out an anti-protest group as well as scads of police, clogging traffic around Anita's downtown home. But—perhaps because of the heat—only a small group showed up this time.
|While biking in Bruges, my shoes got some grease on them. Anita and Werner (both doctors) cleaned up my shoe with ether in Werner's clinic (part of his house).|
While we were in Berlin, Les' server at the boat stopped working. We'd gotten rid of all responsibilities, except for this one. It wasn't a major disaster, just a slight inconvenience for some of the people who use Les' Morse code program. With the help of our boat neighbor Dick, Les was able to diagnose the problem (a tripped GFI breaker) and fix it from afar.
We sent our second package home, this time a whopping six pounds. With weather in the 90s it was time to bag the long underwear, hat, gloves, and other warmish clothing. And some things that seemed like good ideas in Seattle turned out to be unnecessary. For instance, I never once used my little reading lamp because my Kindle has a built-in light. Live and learn.
We've had a good time in Germany. Tomorrow we take the train to Prague for a few days, and then to Martin in Slovakia. We're going to miss our "home away from home" in Leipzig.